February 28, 2005
Do You Know?


Was rooting around in what would be the flat files if I had flat files and found some cigarette cards I borrowed from a friend in early 2000. After I'd bought this URL, I thought I'd make a site from the cards, they were so beautiful. The abstract and the ephemeral delineated in the same line as Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. (And I was going to learn HTML!) Saturation became something else, and I really should give these cards back.

Please draw your own picture of giddiness. There will be a prize.

Posted by dbrown at 10:54 PM
February 27, 2005
Here is New York


Dave M.'s sprawling paean to New York City ran in the Times today. (We salute you.) Short beers, baby pants, hot-plate emporia, small felicities. What would we do without New York? I would be lost.

Posted by dbrown at 01:07 PM
February 25, 2005
The Light in Iraq, again


"Spent bullet-casings litter the ground at the site of a bomb blast that killed three U.S. soldiers."

CNN is usually more... concrete than this, but this was their homepage image for most of the afternoon. The long shadows make me wonder what it feels like, standing there.

Posted by dbrown at 03:06 PM
February 24, 2005
Last Picture


A while back I posted about Solomon August Andrée's disastrous hot-air balloon trip over the north pole. (Well, he didn't get there.) The punctum being the camera found 33 years after his expedition disappeared, and the photos found within. There are other examples of last pictures, some still unfound: Mallory's camera from his also disastrous attempt at Everest; the maybe apocryphal story of a Signal Corps filmmaker shooting footage of a bomb as it bounced across the deck of an aircraft carrier toward him; Bill Biggart's pictures of the World Trade Center falling.

Today the Seattle Times gives us a couple more pictures for the canon, found in a digital camera washed up in a Thai beach. The wave rushes in.

Posted by dbrown at 11:33 AM
Robot Companionship update

It's all happening in Japan; the latest is the "hit" status of talking stuffed animals for the elderly. "Talking toys have become such a hit that some elderly people have embraced them as substitutes for the children who have grown old and deserted entire neighborhoods in the rapidly greying country.... "I thought that you need to enjoy the night together if you really hope to live with a doll.""

Posted by dbrown at 10:36 AM
February 22, 2005
Repent, Sinners

I learn, via livejournal: "Korn has parted ways with guitarist Brian 'Head' Welch, who has chosen Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end."

Which gets me remembering and googling back to Courtney, in 1999:

> The n ext afternoon i go downstairs , i walk
> throught he lobby and i hear my
> name - wailed- in wretched voice- i whip around,
> here in fro
> nt of me is a bedraggled girl-18 maybe younger. One
> of Korns security
> "people" is dragging her.
> "Courtney "she screams"they raped me Courtney"

Posted by dbrown at 09:53 PM
it ends the way it begins

One of the driving ideas of Snow Crash is the devolution of language (namshub, Eniki, etc.). I remember (maybe inaccurately) some of the Raft folks speaking this, after the virus strips their tongue down to root: "wub wub wub wub wub."

Monday I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours in an emergency room in Poughkeepsie (5 stitches, not mine). There was an old, gaunt, toothless woman in a wheelchair with her son and I assume daughter in law. She is repeating one thing over and over, singing it: "lub lub lub lub lub."

Posted by dbrown at 08:47 AM
February 18, 2005
Elephant in room

from the World Cup 2006 site, detailing the various venues:

"Berlin Ticket Information

Originally designed by architect Werner March and built between 1934-36 for around 42 million Reichsmark, American sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals here at the Olympic Games in 1936. Today, one of the avenues leading to the ground bears the great runner's name."

Posted by dbrown at 10:02 AM
February 16, 2005

What I like about Yoko Ono are the participatory bits. There was the nail piece, at Mass MOCA a few years ago, and the broken dishes piece at Happiness, and most especially Fly Piece, in Grapefruit. Oh, and "Voice Piece for Soprano," reprised online in realtime by the Walker. (I'm rambling but see also the Bag Piece.)

All of which I thought about when I followed a link to Miranda July's Learning to Love You More, 45 and counting assignments of art made by you. Assignment #39 Take a picture of your parents kissing. 32. Draw a scene from a movie that made you cry. 31. Spend time with a dying person. 27. Take a picture of the sun. Send 'em in.

And then, look, my college friend and ex-roommate Tiffany has already sent two in. This is a small place.

Posted by dbrown at 12:59 PM
February 14, 2005


It’s nice when professional and personal interests come together. Chlorine gas, for instance. For the cleaning book, I was trying to track a fact down about chlorine –- was World War I the first use of chlorine? A: No, not quite.

Not the first, but still, when that first wave of gas came over, in April 1915, maybe that was the beginning of everything. A personal memoir: “. . . more curious than anything was a low cloud of yellow-grey smoke or vapour, and, underlying everything, a dull confused murmuring. . . One man came stumbling through our lines. An officer of ours held him up with levelled revolver, "What's the matter, you bloody lot of cowards?" says he. The Zouave was frothing at the mouth, his eyes started from their sockets, and he fell writhing at the officer's feet. . . . We pass a field battery; it is not firing, as it has nothing to fire, and its commander sits weeping on the trail of one of his useless guns.”

There’s more, of course, like here.

Which made me remember that my maternal great-great-uncle was gassed in the Great War (I think probably mustard but that’s just a guess, he was American and so went over later). Russell. He survived almost two more decades in an Iowa institution, though I don’t know which one. I have a picture of him, from probably about 1910. He is dapper, thin, handsome, in a fresh suit, standing on the archetypally Iowan front porch with his mother and father. There is a rocker on the left, and a porch swing on the right. His collar is very, very high, I don’t know how he could have standed it.

Posted by dbrown at 11:40 PM
The Deep End

Sometime early in high school, we (science class?) went on a field trip to the Pulgas Water Temple, a Depression-era Classical monument to public works, through which some of the waters of the watershed flowed, at a volume and speed that was terrifying. Then we visited the attached but hidden water treatment plant. Yep, tons of fun. Touring the underground plant, I peeked through a thick window into a holding tank with maybe 2 billion gallons of water in it. It was gigantic, the water was crystal clear, the tank seemed to go on for ever and ever. For years I was haunted by the idea of being trapped in there. I am haunted right now by it, the idea of all that water and no escape.

Last week, the body of a chemist who worked at a similar treatment plant in New Jersey was found in a similar tank. Another childhood fear made whole.

Posted by dbrown at 11:00 AM
February 11, 2005
Nothing’s planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground.

I spoke with Arthur Miller on the phone once, looking for photographs of him. (Inge answered the phone, may she rest in peace.) It was a fairly brief conversation, but during every single second, all I could think was, this guy slept with Marilyn Monroe.

I always though the Crucible was close to crap, but boy that Salesman play, apparently based on my mother, that was the shit.

I tried to find the fulltext on the web, to no avail; but the Spark Notes, they're free, and mind-boggling: "Willy seems to transfer his familial anxieties to his professional life. His brother and father did not like him enough to stay, so he endeavors to be “well liked” in his profession."

Posted by dbrown at 08:55 PM
February 10, 2005
overheard in new york

the girl at the next table over: "He's very Garden State."

Posted by dbrown at 11:23 AM
February 08, 2005
Lies are always wishes


Sontag opens (?) Regarding the Pain of Others by talking about a sequence of Tyler Hicks photographs, from Afghanistan during its post-9/11 fall, which ran on the front page of the Times. It seems to have come out in October, but today I just found Hicks's book, "Histories Are Mirrors," covering Afghanistan and Iraq. I had forgotten that it was Hicks who took those photographs of Abu Ghraib being emptied/liberated/escaped. Back when AG didn't mean a thing.

Hicks's book is the third great photo book covering Iraq, after Bruno Stevens's Baghdad and Nina Berman's Purple Hearts. There are more coming, I can feel it.

Posted by dbrown at 07:01 PM
Dead Men Walking

The link is all over boingboing and metafilter, so it has to be good, but I'll be redundant and note the journal Neurology has just published an article on "The origins of scientific cinematography and early medical applications," specifically the 1899-1902 films of Romanian researcher Gheorghe Marinescu. Neurology has also posted eight of the films, or excerpts thereof. Clips 1-4; Clips 5-8.

Posted by dbrown at 04:31 PM
His speech is the softest whisper,


The Creative Growth Art Center of Oakland has a studio where developmentally disabled adults make art. Chronicle Books has recently published a book of photographs of the artists and small samples of their work. Which is fucking incredible. Judith Scott's non-functional fiber art has received attention from the outside world before -- representation at Ricco Maresca and a monograph -- even though she has Down's, can't speak, and can't hear.

Some of the work is "typical" naive outsiderish; some rises above. Explore. How can you not like an artist named Lolita Triplette? The title and image of this post comes from the profile of Donald Mitchell.

Posted by dbrown at 01:54 PM
February 07, 2005
Dear Leader [I]

I was lucky enough to find a copy of "Kim Il Sung: Biography [I]" (Tokyo: Miraisha, 1969) today. And so begins an irregular series of excerpts.

Chapter 6, Among the People

THE PEOPLE rejoiced immensely over reports that General Kim Il Sung had moved into Mt. Baikdoo and was wiping out enemies successively.

A festive mood previaled everywhere, and people kept talking about the General. It was their fervent desire to see the General himself. Those who had ever shaken hands with the General were the target of public envy.

The General, however, was modesty itself for all his popularity. He behaved quietly and unobtrusively. Clad always in simple clothes, the General worked together with his men. When his forces stopped over at villages during marches, he often took a broom and cleaned areas around houses with his soldiers. Even some people near him asked where General Kim Il Sung was. That happened time and time again.

Posted by dbrown at 02:30 PM
February 02, 2005

As these stories usually go, I was looking for something, but instead found this, on Bartleby:

"New York is something awful, something monstrous. I like to walk the streets, lost, but I recognize that New York is the world’s greatest lie. New York is Senegal with machines." -- Federico García Lorca, 1931

(Which reminds me of Le Corbusier: "A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe.")

Posted by dbrown at 04:04 PM
Robot Sex Update 2

first I was going to write about the headline in the Metro (the paper, not the Times section) today -- "When Robots and Hipsters Clash." But instead there's this Guardian story about robots "feeling lusty."

"Kim, a leading authority on technology and ethics of robotics, said: "Christians may not like it, but we must consider this the origin of an artificial species. Until now, most researchers in this field have focused only on the functionality of the machines, but we think in terms of the essence of the creatures." ... "Robots will have their own personalities and emotion ... If we can provide a robot with good - soft - chromosomes, they may not be such a threat."

Posted by dbrown at 10:58 AM
February 01, 2005
Satkon One


r. raises a good question about this video capture of the king of Nepal taking power of his country: What the fuck is on his head?

(answer: just a cap, the rest is on the wall, but that really doesn't explain everything)

Posted by dbrown at 06:37 PM